quiet

The Bus Stop, flash fiction

Ukrainian Village AugustThe worst is when the air is so light you cannot feel it around you. Nothing is breathing, and you get disoriented and try not to think of death. This happens to me as soon as I step out on the sidewalk. The neighborhood is quiet and fading today even though it is the ripe, middle part of summer when the greenery intrudes upon everything. I walk down the street alongside the promise of rain.

My plan is to go to a café and look for a job, the kind of job I told my sister I already had. Maybe a receptionist or an assistant of some sort. I don’t really know, but I have a hazy outline of what it will be, and that’s what I described to her when she came to visit yesterday. I told her about meetings and offices and working lunches so she would tell the family I am fine. I told her so everyone would know I am fine.

When I am a block from the bus stop I see it pull away. I watch this happen with no reaction, as if there’s a curtain drawn in my mind and I’m shielded from the reality of the world outside. I do not mind waiting, though, because I am in no rush. I have nowhere to be, and the red brick warehouse across the street from the bus stop is symmetrical and nice to look at. From this angle it appears to have no depth and is just a cut-out prop for paper dolls. I am pretty content with this view of the warehouse and of the cars going by, all peopled by little blurs of humanity. I think I just might be alright for a while until a moment later a girl rides by on a purple bike and I realize again how colorless my hair is.

A man joins me at the bus stop, and I immediately get the impression he is not waiting for the bus. Perhaps it is the duffle bag or the gallon of orange Kool-Aid he has with him. We stand there in silence for some time as a line of semi-trucks and work vans speeds past us on the double-lane road. Most people would have put on headphones, but I lost mine a few weeks ago. Besides, the weight of the sky makes up for the quiet. Will the rain start soon? I wonder if the man with the duffel bag is thinking the same thing. I wonder if anyone is thinking the same thing. When the bus finally comes I get on, but the man with the duffel bag stays behind. Perhaps he has not figured anything out about the rain yet.

On the bus I sit next to the window, towards the back, where I have a good view of the interior should I choose to look at it. A woman with a pink umbrella sits with her legs crossed, looking straight ahead. She is dressed too nicely for this bus and for this life, and I cannot bear the sadness of it so I opt instead to look out the window where a car is on fire amidst the weeds and the black top. The rain has just barely started.

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This is Fiction I Swear: Part 13

Part 13: Hiding

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Darling, it’s cold now but warm in here. Tonight, shut it out. Lock the door. Look at me in the soft shadows and shed your past till the only thing left between you and me is the music. This song, it’s pretty, and I think I’ve heard it before.

He’s pretty, too, like this next to me, sleeping now when all’s through. It should be perfectly lovely now, but I’m pulling apart. It’ll never be like this again. There is nothing better than right now and my nerves are on fire. My skin is cold. My lungs collapsed. My blood shivering while by body lies still.

And the breathing won’t come. At least it won’t come easy and without hot tears rolling down my cheeks and onto my neck. My hair is wet. My lips parted. I taste the salt and the sweetness and the sharp ends all at the same time. It keeps coming, wave after wave after wave, and I’m desperate but I can’t tell if I want to end it or keep it going until the end of time. If the ceiling could open and the sky swallow me alive just like this—

But now there’s only the quiet—deep quiet—and it’s exquisite. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever known, and I can’t see it. I can’t touch it or taste it but I know what it is. I know how it makes my thoughts come softer and my fingers lie still. I only know it as passes through me. Does it exist if I don’t? Does it have a shape if I don’t give it one?

Hours ago the white turned gray. The storm blew in, and the cold grew teeth, but the four walls of this bedroom stood solid and still do. They hold out the world and breathe in and out in time with us. His arm around me, my head on his chest, our eyes closed so we only see inside. But minutes later, restless, I grab my camera.

-Why do you want to take my picture?

-I want to remember you how you are right now.

-Why? What do you think is going to happen?

-Something. Something always happens.

He doesn’t know now, but I’m right about this. I wish I weren’t because I just want to go in circles with him spinning and spinning and laughing and yelling and living and it’ll never end. Happy and shining with sun and grass and leaves in my hair and dirt on his arms and lets not stop! Friend of mine, this is perfect how it is. Don’t change. I won’t if you won’t.

For now, though, all there is is this. I’m forgetting what the world out there is like and it thrills me. So much nothing in this quiet bedroom and it thrills me. Shadows from the yellow streetlights slip in through the half-open blinds and wander the walls around us. They’re not here to take us. They don’t want to swallow us whole. They only keep us company and watch over us as we fall in and out of sleep together like children worn from a day’s games. To have this until the end of time…!